The nuances of booking hotels throughout the world…Expected costs for hotels meeting our criteria…

 

On our first cruise and venture outside the US on January 3, 2013 on the Celebrity Century, an “Old Hollywood” style ship through the breathtaking Panama Canal.  This cruise line and particular ship still remain as our favorite, even after an additional 7 cruises that followed. Our all-time favorite bartender is shown in the far right, Juan.  What a guy!

Over the next 12 months, we will be staying in hotels for short periods while we’re between modes of transportation or, between pre-booked vacation homes. We’ve shared some of that information with you in prior posts.

But as time marches on, we realize how reliant we are on available hotels and the criteria we’ve established that fulfills our goals including:

  • Free WiFi (when possible)
  • Laundry facilities in room or in the building
  • A sofa in room (it’s tough to sit on the bed typing on my laptop for hours posting photos and writing)
  • Convenient location: to our next destination (when possible), for sightseeing, (if time allows) and for local modes of transportation for dining out, grocery shopping, etc.
  • Kitchenette or full kitchen for longer stays (when possible)
  • Reasonable cost (in most cities a decent hotel room will run from US $175 to US $200 per night or more with city taxes and fees
  • Air conditioning (we seldom, if ever, will travel in cold climates)
  • Safe in room
  • Good view. For us, this is important. If we’re to pay US $200 a night, we want a good, if not great view.
  • Great reviews by recent guests for a 4.0 rating or higher. Tom will read from 30 to 50 recent reviews to satisfy our objectives.

Researching online is a laborious process when trying to achieve all the above criteria, although filters are allowing us to select most of these features. However, we choose not to use the filters in the event we may be willing to forego features when the remaining aspects are more than befitting.

We tend to use the advertisers on our site, which includes: Hotels.com and Expedia.com for the best rates and convenience. We’re signed up for points and perks at both of these websites as is the option for any travelers. Feel free to use these and any of our other readily available links.

In our early planning stages, we’d hoped to avoid hotel stays as much as possible due to the added expenses, not only the cost of the room but also the necessity of dining in restaurants for all meals, extra cab fares, and tips which add up quickly.

So far, the necessity of booking hotels is for the following dates and cities (reasons are listed)

1.  November 30, 2013, Johannesburg, South Africa: With a 12-hour layover on our way to Mpumalanga, South Africa, we chose to stay overnight rather than wait in the airport. 
2.  August 1 to August 16, 2014, Paris, France: With a one-month layover in Europe while we await our transatlantic cruise out of London, we decided o the two-week stay we described in a prior post.
3.  August 16 to August 31, 2014, London, England: This period is the second half of our one month waiting period for our upcoming transatlantic cruise out of London on August 31, 2014, arriving in Boston, Massachusetts, US on September 14, 2014.
4.  September 14 to September 17, 2014, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. We’ll stay in Boston to spend time with family and to visit the cemetery where my father is buried, who passed away when I was 12 years old in a tragic accident. On September 17th we fly from Boston to Vancouver.
5.  September 17 to September 23, 2014, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. During this period, we get to know Vancouver while we’re awaiting our upcoming cruise from Vancouver to Hawaii, sailing on September 23, 2014, a partial Pacific Ocean crossing.
6.  October 5 to November 30, 2014, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. At this point, we’re looking to fill this period with a hotel booking in Honolulu for a possible 2 weeks with the remaining period in vacation homes on other Hawaiian islands.  Hawaii is expensive, more than any other location we’ve researched thus far. We shall see what we find, posting our bookings here when completed.

For the best rates for many hotels, a prepaid, non-refundable price is an option. When possible, we prefer cancellable rates but often this runs as high as US $50 more per night. We weight each situation case by case, deciding, based on our options. 

Yes, we currently have paid out US $5100 in hotel pre-booking fees, US $3800 of which is non-refundable. This enabled us to get a fabulous room in an almost completely booked hotel at a considerably lower price. We decided to take the risk, which we won’t take in every case. But on occasion, it may be a decision one may choose to make.

As you can see, booking hotels (and vacation homes) is a time consuming, a thought-provoking process requiring diligence, persistence, and patience. I recall the amount of time I spent in our old lives, booking a hotel and air travel for a single trip. Now, faced with all of these, (some of which we’ve already booked), it can be a daunting task when looked at in its entirety. 

But, in line with our motto of “wafting through our worldwide travels with ease, joy, and simplicity,” we’ve chosen to take “bite-sized pieces,” nibbling away, in a manner we both find pleasurable and fulfilling. After all, the planning process is almost as much fun as “getting there.”

2 thoughts on “The nuances of booking hotels throughout the world…Expected costs for hotels meeting our criteria…

  1. Anonymous Reply

    I am a person who loves to get postal mail. How do you not miss sending and receiving mail and where's the mail addressed to you now piling up somewhere?

    Rick Olson

  2. Jessica Reply

    Rick, thanks for writing! It's nice to hear someone still loves snail mail.

    Many months before we left, we set up a mailing service in NV, our state of residency, to receive and handle all of our mail. We submitted a forwarding address request at the PO good for one year. Then, we started sending requests for any mail that we do want to receive, to come to us via email. Also, we stopped all "junk" mail, advertising, magazines, newspapers, etc. However, there were a few items, such as insurance, retirement and tax documents, that insist on sending the paper copies.

    When mail arrives, the mailing service (who sends us an email each time we get mail) per our request for a nominal fee, will scan and email the contents to us to read online. Once we've read it, we have them shred it. If keeping a copy is vital, we have them hold the item until the next time we have a box of supplies sent to us at which time they'll include those pieces.

    Our one year of "mail forwarding" from the USPS ended on Halloween. But, we'd already changed our mailing address to our NV address at the mailing service on any important resources. We have all tax documents sent directly to our accountant.

    It took awhile to figure all of this out. But, it's working perfectly. Plus, we never have to walk outside on ice and snow to make our way to the mailbox. Tom liked mail. I never liked the pieces of paper all over the house. We've both adjusted well to this change, among other things!

    We both loved hearing from you. Please write anytime!

    Warmest regards,
    Jess & Tom

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